Short, Fat, and Stylish: A Fashion Guide for Plus-Size Petite Women
Petite-Plus: The Overlooked Size
There seems to be a belief that "petite" is synonymous with "elfin," that petite women are tiny, graceful creatures who float delicately on a sea of petals and have waists the size of an average woman's neck. Not true. While some such women do exist, there are just as many (if not more) who are petite-plus: at least average in width and less-than-average in height.
While the media is delighted to fuss over the existence of so-called plus-size models, the plight of the short is totally ignored. Worried you don't get to see models who are a normal size? Forget about width, that's bad enough. Let me tell you about height.
A "short" model is 5' 9". Honestly. That's at least 8 inches taller than a petite-sized woman, and those extra inches alter the way any outfit looks, not a little but completely. Have you ever tried on a wedding dress and found yourself standing on a small dais which allows the dress, which is too long, to fall to the floor? I bet you looked great, but of course that's not how you would look if you wore that dress on your wedding day because the ratio of width to height would be completely different with two feet on the floor.
What our culture perceives as elegant is a silhouette where the height is several times the width. Take a look at any fashion illustration you've ever seen. Take a look at a Barbie doll, where the length of the leg is way above normal in comparison to the other measurements. To achieve that elegant ratio of width to height, short women need to use every visual illusion they can.
Monochromatic Colors and Vertical Lines
The longer the single blocks of color are, the taller you will appear. A blouse and pants for example will make you look short unless...
1. The blouse is the same color as the pants, and
2. There is no obvious horizontal line between them.
The ideal outfit for the plus-size petite woman is mostly one color, with a contrast at the narrowest point (usually the neck). The contrasting splash of color at the neck will allow the eye to follow a long, unbroken monochromatic line from feet to neck. This means that maxi skirts and dresses have the potential to make you look slimmer than conventional skirts will. Jackets can provide a great contrast and look good over matching blouse and pants (especially when left open to show the blouse which becomes, visually, a narrow strip of lighter colored fabric) but if they don't match the pants, the lower edge will form a horizontal line, breaking the line and spoiling the illusion of height.
One solution is to wear pants, top, and jacket all to match, or use cleverly-shaped jackets like waterfall jackets which hang in soft folds without one solid horizontal border.
Dresses for Plus-Size Petites
When it comes to evening wear, the shorter woman can shine in a full-length gown, but even here the illusion can be improved by the use of the right neckline. A V neck creates an illusion of length and can be very flattering, whereas a square neck emphasizes width and is unlikely to look as good. A high neck can allow a longer visual line, as well, although a little skin at the neckline always looks good, too.
When choosing a dress, remember that solid colors and vertical lines will work with your shape. If you've got the legs for it, don't be afraid of a slit at the side of the dress (which offers a vertical line of skin, after all).
Plus-Size Petite Sleepwear
Nightgowns, pajamas, and robes are just as important—there is no better way to end the day than in a beautiful, sensual silk nightgown that fits, but finding one is often difficult for small women who know that "full length" is a relative term. The best solution is to either use a made-to-measure service (shop at a store that will pre-tailor items to fit you) or alter the item yourself. If you choose the latter, remember that designs with a lace edge are easy to tailor; by simply cutting off the lace, you'll be able to reduce the nightgown to the right length. "Short" nightgowns tend to fall to the knee on petite women, so it is important to look carefully at the design. If its primary purpose is to show off your legs, forget it and go for something designed to show off your face or shoulders instead.
Although short, plus-size women are not generally used as models in any part of the fashion industry, this doesn't mean they can't look good. Simply by paying attention to the creation of the right visual illusion, you can look just as good as anyone else, however tall you are.
Customizing Plus-Size Clothing for Petites
Questions & Answers
I have a company Xmas party to go to in a couple of weeks and I'm freaking out because when I called to ask what the dress code is, they said its "2 sizes too small!" I hadn't even heard of that. It's a very posh place with roof top lounge and I don't know what to wear! I'm 38, 5'3" and 225lb. Do you have any tips?Helpful 9
What shape trousers are best for a petite woman with chunky legs?
Since you mention your legs, I'm guessing you don't feel comfortable in leggings. A lot of people don't think plus size ladies should wear leggings, but I disagree. I think we should dress for our own comfort and pleasure. That said, when I want to look good, I wear wide-legged trousers because my right leg is particularly large in circumference and any other type of trouser rides up.
The truth is that there is no one size solution - plus size and petite comes in many different variations. Long legs, short legs, fat legs, thin legs. I think straight trousers look better than tapered as tapered legs draw attention to the wide body above them, while a wide leg makes it look like you are standing on a good wide base, but a lot depends on the color you choose. Try to buy from a store which will let you send it back, make a plan to try the different shapes all in the same color, place your order and try things on slowly and carefully in your own home, but be sure to send back those you don't want! I'm sorry I can't give you a simple answer to your question. I could, of course, make something up, but what would be the point in that?Helpful 11
I'm over 60, wrinkle light skin and 5 ft tall. I've lost my figure and my style. How do I regain style?
The good news is - it's easier than you think. Style isn't about figure, it's an attitude. You can decide to have style.
Start with the two most basic things, a trip to the hairdressers and a new bra. Take a look in the mirror and smile. It's strange how, when you get older, boob height becomes important!
How's your makeup? As we get older our skin tone changes. I am also over sixty and Ive lost my freckles, sadly, my skin isn't a lovely magnolia color any more, it's just kind of pasty. Time for a new foundation or tinted moisturizer. Keep your skin well moisturized, your bust and hair under control. Look in the mirror and smile.
Next, look at your shoes. Find something your feet look good in and look comfortable. Black and brown shoes are conventional, red, oddly, goes with a lot and can make life simpler. If you're looking for one good pair - red shoes go with dark blue, brown or black, while black shoes - don't.
After that it really is up to you. A lot of style is attitude, so you need to be comfortable as well as look good. Keep looking in the mirror and keep smiling. When you get to clothes make sure they fit well. That's more important than anything, and one thing that can help you put an outfit together is to remember that two co-oridnating colors look good, but for style you need three. Even if you dress in all one color, as I tend to do, add a colorful scarf, if you don't like it round your neck, tie it to the handle of your (contrasting) handbag. And smile.Helpful 66
Where can I shop? What stores carry petite stout women’s clothing?
Before diving in to which stores to visit, make sure you take some measurements. You may be short and fat, but are you equally proportioned? I know I'm not - my torso is normal length, but my legs are not, so stores who sell petite length tops are no use to me, but I do need petite size in skirts and slacks. However, I am 5ft (1.5m) tall and I have to say I have not yet found anywhere where petite size is short enough.
First and foremost I shop for clothes online because websites give you more information about clothes. I have measured myself and know what length of top I like - around 31 inches. I go through catalogues and websites and I'm ruthless - you have to be - if it's not the right length, I ignore it unless it is really fabulous, in which case I look carefully to see if I could shorten it myself.
Whether you can find petite plus size clothes depends on how 'plus size' you are. There are many ranges which will go up to a size 3x, (Lands end, for example, do plus size petite to a size 3x) but beyond that, no. For some reason if you are any larger you are assumed to be an amazon of at least 5' 9". JCPenney, for example, have a plus size petite range, but I could find precious little online above a size 24. Internet searches aren't really useful either, as they often seem hopeful when a brand has a petite range and a plus range, but so often there is no overlap at all.
Lately Ive bought quite a few things from amazon.com, but these were mostly tea shirts from the Daily Ritual brand which I find is great for weekends or under a jacket. I've also bought quite a lot from Torrid. Their listings are very informative and since I know what length I like Ive been able to find some tops in their general range. They don't have many items marked petite but I did find some, though in my case ALL the dresses - and some of them are lovely - were too long, even in the shorter length, but I liked them so I'm taking them up. Some websites will make to your measurements - my most business like clothing at the moment comes from Astartewoman.com, which I can recommend. My underwear mostly comes from Torrid and the rest from all over the place. Old Navy sell slacks and jeans up to size 30 in short, medium and long. I know there are several plus size stores that will sell pants to any length you require, I'll try and update this answer when I find their names, sites like https://www.sumissura.com will create made to measure business suits for both men and women, and of course there is eshakti.com which so far I haven't tried, but I'm looking forward to it since they make to measure. I'm not sure if that's been any help at all, but I am planning to update the article soon, or maybe write another, so if you have found a good experience in plus size petite shopping, please let me know and I can add it to the list.Helpful 30
Would a plus-size business suit look better with a skirt or slacks?
There is no single answer to this just as there is no single plus-size petite configuration. I, for example have a normal length torso and very short legs. If you want a general answer I'd go for slacks as long as they fit well. A business suit is typically neutral in color. Dark neutrals will look great as slacks but they have to fit well and go with the major item of business wear, your jacket. Wearing slacks with a matching jacket will give a one color silhouette which will make you look taller than you would in a skirt where you are 'broken up' into shoes, tights, skirt, jacket. However, beware the color. I once bought a 'neutral' that was a sort of burnt orange, and when draped on my 60 inch bust that turned out to be rather intimidating! Stick to the best neutrals, navy, deep teal, moss/olive green, dark brown, deep gray and of course our old friend, black.Helpful 4